Burner Mark has shared this advice on what to do if you have an encounter with the police on the Playa. Seems pretty helpful. He has just sent us (Aug 23 2015) an updated text for 2015.
We also published this guide last year, and shared these Gate Safety tips last week. 40% of Burners have never been to the event before; only 30% have been more than twice. Even if you’re a grizzled Veteran, it’s worth having a quick scan through this.
How to deal with cops at Burning Man
Do not consent to a search.
Never consent to a search. Say the phrase “I do not consent to a search.” Even if you have nothing for them to find, ALWAYS say “I do not consent to a search.” Never consent to a search of your body or of your clothing, of your car, your truck, your trailer, your RV, or of your camp, or of your tent. You especially never consent to the search of anyone else’s property. The cops are trained to make you flustered and to “take command” of the situation. Or they can be “polite”: “Mind if we take a look around?” Yes, you mind. “I do not consent to a search.”
They can ask the other people in your group or in your car, not just the driver or leader. “Mind if we take a look?” You should all sing the same song: “I do not consent to a search.”
Even if they threaten you with arrest, or threaten to bring a sniffing dog, continue to say “I do not consent to a search”. Even while they are searching you or your stuff, continue to say “I do not consent to a search”.
Cops can ask you questions. They may say things like “We’re just talking”, or “What do you think of …?”, or “Can you help us out?” You do not have to answer their questions, and probably shouldn’t.
They can ask you were your camp is, and who you are camping with. You don’t have to answer them.
Never answer any questions about recreational drugs. Remember, you never do drugs, you never carry drugs, you never supply drugs, you have no idea where to get drugs, you don’t want any drugs, and you don’t know anyone who does. That includes pot, which is still illegal in Nevada and is still illegal on Federal land, even for medical use.
Don’t lead them to your camp.
They may try to get you to lead them to your camp. They can be very commanding and matter of fact about it, they may say “We’re going to your camp.” They will make it sound as if you have no choice. You do have a choice, and you are going to chose to not to lead them to your camp. Never lead them to your camp. If they really really insist on you leading them somewhere, then lead them to a Black Rock Ranger outpost.
Keep your tent closed.
Always zip your tent closed when you are not in it. If possible, use screens or sheets to block transparent window screens, so there is no line of sight into your tent. You may want to use a luggage lock to lock the zipper of your tent when you are not in it. If your tent is zipped shut, they need a warrant to open it, or they need your consent. They probably won’t have a warrant, and you are not going to give them your consent, remember? “I do not consent to a search.”
Your name and ID.
If they ever stop you, you do have to tell them your correct name as it is printed on your ID. If you have your ID on you, you do have to show it to them if they ask. If you don’t have it on you, you do not have to go get it for them, and you never should. If you are a non-resident alien visiting on a visa waiver program, you do not have to carry your passport with you.
Being Detained, or “Am I free to go?”.
The magic phrase is: “Am I free to go?” Keep saying it. As soon as they say “yes”, walk away immediately, swiftly, and without another word. Do not run, just walk.
If they write you a ticket, you must take it. Put it in your pocket, and then you say “Am I free to go?”
If they ever say you are not free to go, you say “Am I being arrested?”. If they say no you are not being arrested, you say again “Am I free to go?”. Keep it up as many times as necessary. Yes, it will sound like a stupid kid game, like “stop copying me”, but the game is very real with very real stakes, and this is their game to win, and yours to lose.
If they ever say anything like “you are under arrest”, or ever do anything to make you think you have been arrested, such as restraining you in any way, you must immediately say the following magic phrase (memorize it!): “I do not consent to any search. I hereby invoke my right to remain silent. I want to speak to my attorney.” And then you SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Do not say anything at all about your arrest or why you may have been arrested, until you are talking in private with your attorney. Not with those cops, not with any other cops, not with any onlookers, not with anyone else who was arrested, not with anyone who is being held with you. Not even with your campmates, or with your friends, or even with your family. Even your spouse. Assume the police car, transport van, and holding cells are bugged. Assume the cops will lie about what you tell them. Assume everyone else will testify against you. You invoked your right to remain silent. Now use it.
Alcohol and ID.
The camps with open bars that are giving away booze may ask to see your ID to verify you are over 21. You don’t have to show them, but they don’t have to give you free booze either, and they probably won’t, fearing a bust.
If you are giving away booze, including beer or wine, and the person you are about to give it to looks like they could possibly be under 21, you should verify their ID. The state liquor cops will be there, trying to bust you with stings.
Even if your camp is not running a public bar, random people will walk into your camp and ask for booze. You will almost certainly have an under-21 plainclothes liquor cop walk into your camp at least once during the week, trying to sting you. Be aware, an alcohol service bust can be rather painful and expensive.
And even if that dude asking for a free drink is not a cop, it’s rude and against the burner ethos to beg for a gift.
Who Watches the Watchmen?
While the cops are dealing with you, you need to be memorizing the color and design of their uniforms, and if you can, their nametags and their badge numbers. They are *supposed* to be wearing visible nametags. As soon as you get away from the cops, go soonest to Center Camp, or to a Black Rock Ranger outpost, and fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form and turn it in.
If you personally with your own eyes see the cops detaining anyone, arresting anyone, or searching anyone or anything, it is an act of Civic Responsibility (Principle 7) and a Gift (Principle 2) to Participate (Principle 9) in the burner community to memorize what you can, and then fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form.
You may also decide get out your camera and start recording. The judiciary at all levels has clearly stated that you have the right to record the police as long as you don’t obstruct them. Cops hate it, but too bad. If the cops tell you to turn off your camera, don’t. They cannot lawfully order you to stop recording, they cannot not lawfully order you to delete photos or video, and they cannot themselves lawfully delete any photos or video. If they do any of these things, they themselves are knowingly breaking the law, and that will be very useful in court. If they threaten to arrest you for recording, keep recording.
If you ever see a cop order anyone to stop recording or to delete anything, make sure that goes on the Law Enforcement Feedback Form.
While you are recording them, never get in their way, and stay back 35 feet / 10 meters. That’s tazer range.
If they tell you to put your camera away and stop recording, keep recording.
“Undercover” and “plainclothes” cops.
The cops claim there are “very few” “undercover” cops at Burning Man. This is a very carefully nuanced untruth. There are cops at the event who are not “undercover”, but instead are “plain clothes”, which means they are not wearing uniforms and visible badges, but are instead dressed up in costume to look like burners. They do not have to tell you they are cops when you ask them. You will not be able to “sense” that they are cops, until they bust you. People have been busted by a cop who was wearing only sparkles and a miniskirt.
If someone is carrying a gun, they are a cop. If someone has a dog, and is not obviously a Gerlach local, a Native American from the local tribal areas, or a member of DPW, they are a cop. Especially if the dog is wearing a vest. If someone is driving along Esplanade after the the Gate has opened, and they don’t have a Black Rock Ranger logo or a DPW logo, they are a cop. (Report them via a Law Enforcement Feedback Form if you see them doing that.) If someone is sitting in an idling unlit truck out in the dark of deep playa, they are a cop.
If someone you do not know asks for drugs or offers to trade you drugs, they are a cop. If you met them this year, you do not know them.
If you met these two girls three days ago out the in deep playa, and they are really cute, and they went out dancing with you last night, and they just suggested that if you can supply some “favors”, you all can “party together” in your tent, they are cops. No, really, yes, she is a cop, and her coworkers are standing by to ruin your whole year.
What if I need “Police Services”?
What if you are lost? Or a camp mate is lost? Or your child is lost? Or you have found a lost child? Or you have found a lost fellow burner who is injured or is unable to take care of themselves? What if you are assaulted? What if something has been stolen? What if someone is hurt?
Go to a BLACK ROCK RANGER, not a cop. The Rangers will help deal with the situation, and if the cops are actually needed, the Rangers will summon them and will deal with them.
Know what the Black Rock Ranger uniform is, and how it’s different from the cop uniforms. Rangers wear khaki shirts and khaki hats with the Burning Man logo on their hats, on their chests, on their backs, and on their vehicles.
Have a great Burn!
Allison from the ACLU contacted to let us know that they will not have a formal presence at Burning Man from 2014, as BMOrg prefer to handle legal matters on their own accord now.
the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLUNV) would like to inform you that we will not be in attendance this year at Burning Man 2014. Unfortunately, the Burning Man organization had made the distinction that they will handle legal matters on their own accord.
In spite of this decision, we would like to inform you that the ACLUNV still cares deeply about protecting the rights of Burners on the Playa. And while we will not have a physical presence at the event this year, we are still interested in hearing from individual’s if they feel their civil liberties had been violated. To report an incident involving a violation of one’s civil liberties, one may file a Burning Man law enforcement specific complaint on our website at aclunv.org/burningman.
So, trust in BMOrg to protect your legal rights – or learn them yourself and stay out of trouble.
[Update 8/23/15 10:18pm]
If you do get caught, you can try Lawyers For Burners. They have released this useful update for 2015
From Lawyers For Burners:
Lawyers for Burners will continue to provide support and resources for Burning Man participants who are cited or arrested at the 2015 Burning Man Event. If you receive a citation from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), please fill out a feedback form on the top left tab, and Lawyers for Burners will respond with legal information and assistance in obtaining representation for your citation. If you were arrested by the Pershing County Sheriff, Lawyers for Burners recommends that you contact Reno, NV criminal defense attorney John B. Routsis; 571 California Ave; Reno, NV 89509 (775) 785-9116.
Alerts for 2015
Entering the Event and Driving on Gate Road
In recent years, the BLM has shifted its drug enforcement efforts from patrolling inside the Event to stopping vehicles as they enter the Event. While the BLM cannot freely enter your camp and search for drugs without a warrant, probable cause, consent or exigent circumstances, the BLM can stop your vehicle and create probable cause with its dogs. You do not have to consent to a search. Take great care while entering the Event and while driving to your camp on Gate Road, the outer ring of the Event. In 2013, about 85% of the participants who contacted Lawyers for Burners reported receiving citations while driving into the Event.
Participants reported being stopped for ticky-tacky motor vehicle infractions like driving 13 mph when the speed limit was 10 mph or obstructed rear license plate. Once stopped, participants reported being asked if they had any drugs and whether they would consent to a search of their vehicle. Some Participants reported that after they said no, the officer went back to his vehicle and returned with a drug sniffing dog. Some participants reported that it seemed like the officer caused his dog to “alert” even without the presence of drugs. This “alert” by the dog can become probable cause to search Participant’s vehicle.
If the BLM finds drugs in your vehicle, the BLM will issue you a citation for $525. If you wish to contest the citation or plea bargain the citation to a non-drug offense, contact Lawyers for Burners through the feedback form on this site. Contrary to what the officer may tell you, it is very unlikely that you will be arrested or evicted from the Event for drug possession. Be polite, know that you do not have to consent to any interrogation or search, and enjoy the rest of the Event. Lawyers for Burners will assist you after the Event.
Caution Driving Through Mono County
Attention Southern California Burners: the Mono County Sheriff Dept. conducted a “saturation patrol” on Hwy 395 during the 2013 Burning Man Event and arrested 17 people for felonies, mostly participants traveling to Burning Man. One participant told Lawyers for Burners that a Sheriff’s Deputy told him that his Department was “hunting” Burners. Take great caution when traveling on Hwy 395 through Mono County. Since Mono County is hostile to Burning Man participants, consider whether you want to support the economy of Mono County as you travel through.
Results from 2013
Every single participant who contacted Lawyers for Burners after receiving a drug citation at the 2013 Event was offered the chance to plea bargain the citation to a non-drug offense. The BLM offered to dismiss the drug possession citation if the participant agreed to plead guilty to a motor vehicle infraction. The BLM routinely reduced the $500 fine as well. Attorneys affiliated with Lawyers for Burners worked directly with the United States Attorney’s Office (the part of government that prosecutes citations written by the BLM) to accomplish these results. Lawyers for Burners acknowledges and appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Reno, Nevada for its management of the Burning Man citation calendars every year.
If Participants are unable to return to Nevada when their court date is scheduled, attorneys affiliated with Lawyers for Burners can represent you and make your court appearance for you. The cost of representation is usually only a couple hundred dollars. Lawyers for Burners can recommend attorneys who will represent participants and negotiate better plea arrangements for very reasonable fees.
All of the citations issued at Burning Man are for infractions (less than misdemeanors) and participants can simply pay the fine and be done. If the citation was for driving in violation of the “closure order” and a fine of $125, the cost of fighting the citation may exceed the harm of pleading guilty to the charged offence. But if the offense is possession of a controlled substance, pleading guilty to the charged offense could have severe personal and professional costs. Regardless, if you ignore the citation, the BLM can, and has, obtained arrest warrants for participants who ignore a citation.
THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY FROM LAWYERS FOR BURNERS AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL REPRESENTATION. THIS IS LEGAL INFORMATION, NOT LEGAL ADVICE, WHICH IS AN INTERPRETATION OF THE APPLICABLE LAW TO SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES. WE URGE YOU TO CONSULT A LAWYER FOR LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION ABOUT A PARTICULAR LEGAL QUESTION OR ISSUE YOU MAY HAVE.
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2015 Playa Update, War on Marijuana
Barbarians Illegal SearchesRandom Police Searches at the Gate
First reports, upon social media, are of the the behaviour of the police is most similar of the unprofessional police behaviour of 2013. The near to 30,000 newbies, and the near to 15,000 second year Burners, most of whom are white, and of the middle class, are not familiar with police behaviour of this manner, and must view 24 Tips From Burners on Gate Safety. In addendum, Burners must view the reports on social media in regards of this. Obey ALL rubbish rules from the Gate, to the Greeters, most especially, utilize turn signals, seatbelts, bicycles and licence plates, and speed, in addendum of the police licence plate scanner must not report issues in regards of the vehicle, or of the driver. After the Greeters, the police require Burners to a one lane road, and view the person purposed towards might their appearance be of a person whom might utilize marijuana, a rubbish rationale purposed for halting their vehicle will occur, thus a dog will search the outside of the vehicle, of which, the dog will alert, might the dog smell marijuana, or, might the police desire so.
The BMOrg, and their social media crew, do not desire to discuss issues of this manner. My belief is of Marian Goodell must invite her godfather, Antonin Scalia, to the playa, purposed to view the most abusive behaviours, of which, occur in due of his rulings.
Lawyers for Burners states ‘In 2013, about 85% of the participants who contacted Lawyers for Burners reported receiving citations while driving into the Event.’, and, by appearance, it might be most similar within 2015. In addendum of the behaviour of the police at the Gate, numerous tickets are in due of the Indian towns on 447, and of near to Gerlach.
At present, the reports are of no dogs, perchance in due of the red flag wind, and whiteout, warnings, at the least prior of Saturday night, the horrible playa dust destroys the noses of the dogs. Perchance, the owners of the dogs stated the dogs were being hurt in this manner, or, perchance, the police obtained adult supervision in regards of their actions. Might any person have information in these regards, it would be awesome might you comment here, or, upon social media, purposed to assist Burners upon these matters.
Someone should contact the ASPCA… http://www.aspca.org/
So.. You will also report the 50-100 DPW dogs on Playa to ASPCA?
Uh, Yes. They are dogs, and do not have a choice. Were does it say that their health should be subordinated to anyone for any reason? Unless DPW have some dog dust magic they are not sharing with LE and the rest of us. (I know people who get comp tickets think they are magical, but that is only in the eyes of the Borg.)
Of course the Borg may tell you DPW dogs are special.
If you really want a playa dog, I suggest K9, with proper HEPA filtration added.
Perhaps they do not want to unduly soil their crisp uniforms and save it for a later day when there are even more lovely ladies and dudes to harass
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Why this site is not prominently linked in multiple locations?
And un-inviting the ACLU to BM… Geeze!
With $20 million in overhead, seems the BOrg staff would be sure that was promoted. You might even think the BOrg don’t have the interest of the burners as a first priority. If you were prone to conspiracies, you might think that the BOrg might be sacrificing burners for arrest to appease LE with the fines revenue, and to keep them off the back of First Camp and the CCamps. But the BOrg would never do that.
For the BOrg is honorable; so are they all, all honorable men… and women.
I think it might have been Piss Clear that recommended the following: “If someone comes up to you and asks for drugs, you back away, and then in a really loud voice, tell everyone around in the area ‘THIS PERSON IS EITHER A NARC OR VERY VERY STUPID EITHER WAY STAY AWAY FROM HIM’.”
That works best for strangers, Lots of bad karma if you do that with camp mates, but good for a joke the first time.
” Assume the police car, transport van, and holding cells are bugged” 😀
Like the cop in the video says, particularly if they have a recorder, and turn it “on” and “off.”
“As soon as you get away from the cop, go soonest to Center Camp, or to a Black Rock Ranger, or to the ACLU camp, and then immediately fill out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form and turn it in.”
Is it true that there is to be no ACLU camp for the 2015 burn?
Is it true that if you ask a cop if he or she is a cop, this person can’t lie about it?
They can certainly lie about not being a cop.
They can also lie about themselves, about their job, about their actions, etc.
(Also if you think someone is an undercover, don’t mess with them, the best you can do is get away from that person if you aren’t in the mood to be around cops.)
Interestingly enough, that urban legend – that if you ask them if they are a cop they have to tell you – is likely a lie from a cop.
There are a lot of YouTube clips about this, but this is from a law school lecture and includes advice from a former cop….
Here is an index for the tape from the YouTube comments:
I really like this talk by Prof. James Duane with police detective (and now Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney) George Bruch on police questioning. But I’m tired of searching it for a remembered tidbit, so I made this little table of contents. Yes, I am a nerd.
1:04 The Fifth Amendment
1:50 A Listening Test
2:58 Justice Robert Jackson
3:58 People who really ought to know better
5:17 The uncountable number of different crimes on the books
6:16 Federal Fish Crime
7:38 Advice to a former student facing the IRS
8:31 Reason 1: It cannot help (the hearsay rule)
10:02 Reason 2: What’s the rush? You can admit guilt later.
11:14 Senator Larry Craig
11:48 How proven-innocent people were convicted by confession
13:20 Reason 3: Your innocent mistakes can hang you 1
4:30 Reason 4: Even the pure truth can help the police to convict you
15:56 The basic function of the Fifth Amendment
17:42 Reason 5: The police’s mistakes can hang you, too
18:15 Pop quiz!
19:00 “You are the kind of people who should never talk to the police under any circumstances for as long as you live.”
19:33 Reason 6: Even the questions can incriminate you
21:33 Reason 7: Telling the truth can give weight to false evidence against you
24:42 Just ask Martha Stewart and Marion Jones
26:22 “God bless the Bill of Rights!”
27:02 “What’s left of equal time”
27:18 Officer George Bruch, Virginia Beach Police Department
27:38 “Everything he said was true”
28:34 “Anybody go above 55 on the Interstate?”
29:28 Every driver does something illegal to justify pulling them over
29:44 “Do you know how fast you were going?” – everyone wants to be honest
30:20 People are stupid
30:46 80% of convictions don’t go to trial because they confess
31:12 Hardened criminals like to tell their story, even to police
31:23 The officer’s edge is the overtime rate motivating him to stay
32:22 The defense attorney’s job is to get to their client before I do
32:30 Example of eliciting confessions of the elements of the offense
33:20 Trying not to admit guilt is like trying to win an Olympic boxing match
34:12 Miranda warning and getting a waiver
35:02 “Before you say anything, let me tell you what I know”
36:00 “Before you start talking to me, let me tell you [what will happen if you lie]”
36:36 The three types of people
39:22 Tricks of the trade: switching off the tape recorder
40:54 If you talk to the police, even on the phone, everything said will be written down
43:12 There are some intelligent criminals, mostly in big office buildings
43:37 The 3 strikes: 1) defense attorney; 2) police witness; 3) confession evidence.
45:30 The recording is usually wiped as soon as the police transcript is written.
46:46 Tricks of the trade: “Write a letter of apology” (yes, we’re allowed to lie)
Near to 30,000 newbies, and near to 15,000 Burners with solely one burn prior, are to be on the playa, again, within 2015. Most of whom are white, and of the middle class, and whom have not experienced the most unprofessional police actions, of which, have been most common on the playa. For lols in regards of this, view the prior afterburn reports within the Internet Archives.
In addendum, newbies must view 24 Tips From Burners on Gate Safety. Newbies must know the difference in regards of the awesome Black Rock City Rangers, dressed in khaki, with the Burning Man logo, whom are Participants whom are purposed solely for the safety of Burners, and the BLM Rangers and Pershing County Sheriff Deputies, dressed in bullet proof vests and guns, whom are purposed for busting hippies for marijuana, and ravers for E. Might any Burner desire help, go to the awesome Black Rock City Rangers, of whom, near to 500 are on the playa, whom resolve concerns in a most Burnerly manner, do not go to the police, whom resolve concerns in a most police manner.
Within 2013, perchance in due of lawsuits of Burning Man and Pershing County, the police were most unprofessional, halting numerous Burners whom looked in the manner of a hippie, or of a raver, at the gate for rubbish rationales, and stating their dog smelled drugs, thus the police are to throw all items within the vehicle into the playa dust in their search, purposed to bully the Burners.
Within 2014, the police were more professional within their actions, perchance in due of Burning Man paying Pershing County near to $300,000 of cash, and paying the BLM near to $4 million of cash, or, perchance, it was due in regards of BLM Agent Dan Love gaining adult supervision from Washington, D.C., in due of the BLM Bundy Ranch rubbish, a few months prior. This did not halt the police from harassing Burners in regards of drugs upon numerous occasions, in the most unprofessional manners stated within these posts.
What might occur within 2015? The BLM, and their police, were most unprofessional in regards of their demands for Chocotacos, and their luxury VIP compound upon the playa within 2015. In due of this, they obtained adult supervision from Washington, D.C. in these regards. The BLM, and their police, are most unprofessional in regards of their demands to ban the ACLU from their meetings, from Center Camp, and, at present, from the playa, of which, the BMOrg complied. The BLM, and their police, are most unprofessional in regards of their demands to be in charge of Burning Man, for rubbish rationales of a forecast of rain, or of civil unrest, in the manner stated within the permit for 2015. In the manner stated within this post, who watches the watchmen?
Again, this is all solved by giving up the Larry LLCabal’s private interests in keeping the current BR location, and instead shop the location for the event just as the Olympics and other major events do. Burners and their economic benefit should be sought out and invited to their location, not seen as a constant to be exploited.
I would place this all at the feet of the CA AG, and their acceptance of the BMP as a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, given the BoD and their actions.
“…ban the ACLU from their meetings, from Center Camp, and, at present, from the playa, of which, the BMOrg complied.” And that’s a public benefit corporation?
For lols in regards of this, click the link of the Afterburn Reports within the comment, and view the Afterburn Reports of prior of 2013, of when Burning Man jumped the shark and began their rubbish Cool Aid upon these matters, in despite of 2013 being a most horrible year in regards of the behaviour of the police. The 2010 Afterburn Report discusses of the ACLU being on the playa in these manners, in addendum of the desires of the prior Pershing County Sheriff for riot control horses to be on the playa, purposed for civil unrest.
The 2011 Afterburn Report is in more of a positive manner, but it states ‘… BLM LEOs seem to have an almost exclusive focus on illegal drugs, neglecting issues of community safety and citizen welfare. This is not a change in their strategies from years past. The bottom line here is more of the same old same old.’
Drug busts probably look better on the officer’s record. And bring in more money. I been to 2011 and 2014 Burns. I felt like there was far more BLM vehicles crusing the city in 2011. But that is just my impression.
If the BOrg were responsible to the burner community (which they are not), they would work with LE to enforce laws based on international priority. That is, they would seek to first enforce laws that would apply in all countries – where once might be extradited in an international court, then national laws, then finally state and local laws. And of course, put public health and safety first, including not exceeding the 5mph BRC and playa speed limit.
The only practical way to achieve this would put the venue in the balance. As long as LE knows that the NV burn will always be located in the BR mountains, same-o-same-o, as you noted.
During build week a LEO came up to our camp and shot the shit for an hour or so. We exchanged stories about the last 2 burns and here are some key points.
-they work 14 hours shifts and aren’t allowed to be on the playa off duty.
-they must go back to gerlach to sleep
-as far as blm agents there are only around 80 of them
-about 15 are on the playa at any given time during the week.
-my guy volunteered to come half across the country to work it
-he assumed i probably don’t sleep much (how can i when there so much to build?)
-the attack dogs with F*CK you up even in a decoy suit.
-I could put on 2 decoy suits and then he would taze me.
-We offered vet services for any of the dogs.
-If you start a fight with them, they will hog tie you and tow your art car.
Conclusion: They are Humans like you and me and you can be personable with them and have a great time. They are not DUMB, so be smart. If you get caught doing anything wrong it’s most likely because you are doing something wrong. Any chance you take is a still a chance. Try to be 100% sure in all your bad choices.
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The balance of power. They assume you are guilty.
The cops are at BM so that it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all CASH drug marketplace run by drug gangs. Nobody talks about this, but I suspect Burning Man would be a FAR more violent event if the $ that could be made by an open-air drug market was actually allowed to happen. There’s literally millions of dollars to be made during the week of the burn. Now you might say “nothing is for sale” and “people bring their own stuff from outside” as an argument to that, but that’s the case with BM as it’s set up now….with the cops. I think they’re a necessary presence and keep the real criminals away from the site.
My NV Burn experience is 5 to 10 years ago, and LEOs were few and far between. There was also absolutely no evidence of drug gangs or any dangerous elements – the Rangers kept things good and saw that anyone who was abusing the freedom was warned and removed from the event if necessary. You know what also was rare: theft of bikes, camp pilferage, and street sign disappearances. (Maybe the LEOs are doing it?… Nah.) Put simply, the NV Burn has jumped the shark, and is a now commodity in almost every sense of the word. Sure, it would be nice if LEOs were like Rangers and were just there to help, but the BOrg has now agreed that the Rangers must rat out anyone. All in all a bad scene, but the BOrg is doing just fine, thank you! )$(
Rangers are under no obligation to “rat out” participants. The entire 2014 Ranger Manual is open to the public if you want to verify yourself:
From the document link you posted, you are right and I stand corrected. There had been reports of tighter coordination with LE in the stories on agreements with local governments, but this is not apparent in the Manual, particularly the “Must Report” list.
Note, too, that even the “Must Report” list is just a requirement for Black Rock Rangers to report those situations *to the head BRRanger at the time*, not to LE. (though it’s possible LE will be monitoring that radio channel)
Last Year my camping neighbor smoked some weed and quickly left. A minute or two later a “Plain clothed person” entered their tent looking for the aroma, without announcing themself. It was a cop. They walk the camps, they follow their nose, they look like a burner and they want to hurt you. Makes us all suspicious of each other, and that is the real serious damage cops inflict.
Beware of trick questions… I have been asked “If I was to search your vehicle, would I find anything that would be a problem? I clearly told the cop that “If he searched my vehicle, he would not find any thing that would be a problem; however, I am not giving you consent to search. I have been advised by attorneys that work with the ACLU never to consent to a search.” The officer called dispatch and attempted to get permission from his superiors. I could hear him telling them what I said and I could hear a quick and stern reply telling him “Do not search the suspect, unless suspect demonstrates clear criminal behavior.” The office was angry, but had no choice, but to leave me alone. He did say that I was lucky and that he was if it was up to him he would bust me. I told him that actually he was lucky. He then said how so? I told him that if he had searched, he would have found nothing and that my attorney would would be have a discussion with Internal Affairs regarding his conduct. His face turned bright red and was visibly shaking, but he still allowed me to leave. I do not recommend agitating an officer as I did. I probably was lucky that he did not lie and claim that I assaulted or threatened him, but do be firm and clearly state that you are not giving permission to be searched. You need say nothing more.
the job attracts thugs. That’s all there is to it. I calm myself by believing there is a special place in hell for people like that..:-)
Remember those hardcore bullies in HS? Ever wonder what they did once they graduated?
Wow! First an article on how not to get caught committing a crime (whether you agree with it or not) and then giving the advice that if you are in trouble, don’t go to the cops. I didn’t realize that cops were our evil overlords who do so little to help us in society. I’m writing this down so I can teach my children this.
In fact, let’s get rid of all cops. Let’s have a free society. Let’s let people do what they want to do. We will all live in peace and harmony. It will be a Utopia, I promise. Because without cops everybody acts in the best interest of their fellow man.
Yes, I am being totally sarcastic. And no, I am not a cop, nor do I play one on TV. But I do believe that the best way to avoid getting arrested is to not commit the crime in the first place. Don’t agree that drugs should be illegal? Hey, neither to I. Then change it. When legalization hits the ballot, campaign for it.
But projecting cops like they are the enemy? Cops are doing their job. Laws are made my legislature. Don’t like it? Take it up with your Congressman.
Your article is titled, “How To Deal With Cops at Burning Man”. This is the advice you failed to say.
1) Treat cops like human beings. They are. They have families just like you.
2) Ask them how they are doing.
3) Offer them food and drink.
4) Treat them the same as you would any other Burner. (Just don’t offer them drugs.)
5) Help them appreciate the experience that is Burning Man even though they have been ordered to work in 105 degree heat. (I doubt anyone volunteers for that duty.) Commiserate with them.
5) Make friends. Karma is a wonderful thing.
Nice tips, thanks for sharing. That’s what we do here, comment on things others have shared.
We’re not saying “hate on cops”, I don’t know what article you were reading but ours is entitled “Prepare for the Playa Police”. I know many great cops and they all would encourage citizens to become familiar with the law and their rights.
“just doing their job” is not a valid defense of bad behavior.
Not all cops are bad, but their job is not to protect you or be your friend.
I suspect you don’t have many years on the playa under your belt. LEOs are there to write tickets and make arrests, it’s a huge annual revenue source for them. While you’re playing ‘have you hugged a cop today’ welcoming them into your camp, they are eyeing the ashtrays and looking into your camp’s private spaces. While you’re joking and making friends with them, they are taking notes and observing your campmates. And they will be back.
If you welcomed LEOs into our camp you wouldn’t be camping with us the following year. And we don’t do drugs and we have nothing to hide.
Oh poor naive Glen.
Yes Cops are real people just like anyone else, real people who’s job it is to cite or arrest people for disobeying the law. While a subset of cops do enjoy the burningman experience, when they are on the clock they aren’t there to make friends. But “I’m not a criminal” you say. How do you know? Do you know all the local, state and federal laws?
For example, I bet you didn’t realize that serving food to the general public requires a permit. Handing a sammich to an officer in a foul mood could get you extra attention and a nasty visit from the health inspector. (Oh btw on duty officers generally don’t eat anything given to them in the off chance it’s laced, you may trust them but they don’t trust you.)
No one is saying you should hate the cops, just understand what they are out there to do and protect yourself from accidentally being on the wrong side of it, even cops agree that you shouldn’t talk to the cops.
(#5 it depends on the agency, there’s a pretty decent sized number that request it, and I’m sure there are some cops who are veteran burners with as many years under their belt as old and dusty DPW members).
you may be right IN GENERAL about interacting with police when they ARE NOT questioning you…
when they ARE questioning you, they are actively searching for ANY piece of info that will help them to justify a search and arrest or ticket.
in that situation you ABSOLUTELY should not have any kind of attitude of trying to be helpful, or nice to make the situation go away… a “nice” conversation can inadvertently drop a hint that they can use to search and arrest you, and that’s their goal at that point.
6) (or 7). Unlike you, they can legally lie to you in virtually ANY context. You cannot lie to them.
Have a nice day!
“And no, I am not a cop…” But you can say that even if you ARE a cop. In fact ANYONE can say they are not a cop, so it is a meaningless statement. (Isn’t jurisprudence great!) The only operative statement is, “I am a cop,” which can either be the truth, or a lie with possible consequences – if you can find a cop to report them.
So basically all your points, which are just speculation, are bad advice in practice. They only apply for a good grade when you are doing role-playing in some community studies program, or if you are really rich and have political contacts, or you are homeless and need room and board.
Far better to take advice from someone who IS a cop: Police detective (and now Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney) George Bruch.
I had a guy ride his bike into camp asking for barbiturates. I said NO but we’re handing out cocaine during child porn theatre later tonight. He said, “Oh really?”
One minor correction to the article, “plain clothes” police usually means they do carry badges and weapons and are supposed to the identify themselves as police if asked.
“Undercover” police are pretending to be criminals (some of them don’t have to pretend very hard) and will not admit to being police if asked.
Forest, Niether “Plain clothes” police, or “Undercover” have to admit or “supposed to identify themselves”when asked. Always remember, they can lie to you, extortt, kidnap, and kill you, almost without any consequences to their actions.
I was dropping off some extra supplies for the cleanup crew on my way to the gate one year. There was a woman at the drop-off station milling about. She was dressed like you might expect a DPW chick to dress. She took my extra booze and cigarettes and then asked if I had anything else to smoke. I said those were the last of the cigarettes, and she said again, ‘Do you have anything ELSE to smoke?’… Then I realized she was an undercover cop. I don’t do drugs. Then told me that’s good because she would have arrested me.
They never let up out there. This was on a Tuesday after the burn, and they’re still out there trying to sting people. Don’t let your guard down.
Time was I would trot out my rant about how they should shop the venue each year to avoid this type of overexposure and development of an annual routine with the locals. Now I consider the NV Burn as flypaper for LE, the general public and the airstrip crowd. They can do their playa kabuki, and leave the rest of us to do the Burner thing elsewhere, with more artists and theme camps rediscovering the meaning of Burning Man and how it left the NV event years ago.
To add to the undercover cop information. “Few” has many meanings, two years ago I had it on pretty good authority that there were enough undercover cops to cover the entire city in a single night. If you think you see or are talking with an undercover do not try to outsmart them or mess with them, if they are in your camp tell them they should leave (you have the right to boot people from your camp). Undercovers often work in teams, be extra suspicious of that cute burner looking for drugs with two strong arm looking people always a few steps behind. There is a 100% chance at some point during the burn an undercover will wander into or by your camp, don’t give them a reason to stay.
Rules about tents expand to any place you are sleeping, if you are sleeping in a car, truck, yurt or tent that is your residence for the week and it gets all the same benefits as your physical home.
This was said but it bares repeating, the cops can and will lie, give you sob stories, try to threaten you, etc. Their goal is to make their jobs easier by convincing you to give up your rights, do not be phased and never say yes.
“If you have your ID on you, you do have to show it to them if they ask”
No law requires anyone to produce a physical ID upon demand. The law may require one to identify themselves if they are accused of committing a crime, but merely asking is not a requirement. In order to detain someone, there must exist an articulated reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.
The relevant Nevada law is as follows;
NRS 171.123 Temporary detention by peace officer of person suspected of criminal behavior or of violating conditions of parole or probation: Limitations.
1. Any peace officer may detain any person whom the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.
2. Any peace officer may detain any person the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has violated or is violating the conditions of the person’s parole or probation.
3. The officer may detain the person pursuant to this section only to ascertain the person’s identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad. Any person so detained shall identify himself or herself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer.
4. A person must not be detained longer than is reasonably necessary to effect the purposes of this section, and in no event longer than 60 minutes. The detention must not extend beyond the place or the immediate vicinity of the place where the detention was first effected, unless the person is arrested.
Identifying oneself may merely provide a name, address or DOB. Again, it does NOT require anyone to produce a physical ID.
better to take a photocopy of your ID with you, and have it on you at all times, than lure the cops back to your camp because they insist they want to see your ID.
Thanks for sharing this information about Nevada law.
It is Federal land, although that doesn’t mean State law no longer applies. It is also the Wild West, which means that whatever the law says, the local judges feel the need to lecture Burning Man on it via the media, and BMOrg feels the need to respond by getting their PR people to lecture the judges on the law. Not an environment conducive to justice or a fair trial for out of town Burners.
Tell me about it. I had one friend a few years ago who did nothing but torch the man a couple of days early, and you should have seen how he got railroaded.
And the local judge is in Lovelock, a county commissioner and a conservative LDS. At least as of a few years ago.